Freshwater focus affects coastal reports

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 12/03/2014

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A nationwide policy focused on improving the quality of freshwater is putting a strain on Environment Southland's resources, resulting in cutbacks in its coastal work.

Environment Southland says the national policy statement for freshwater management is so robust the council has decided to scale back on its reporting for coastal areas to accommodate it.

The regional council's environmental information manager, John Prince, said it had become clear Environment Southland did not have the resources to progress with a full coastal state of environment report as well as undertake the major work associated with its requirements to manage freshwater.

The council had "huge challenges" ahead to meet its freshwater management obligations. "Something needs to give - we have not got the resources (to do both)."

A science-focused stocktake would still include all the necessary information for the council to make decisions about the coastline, but it would be scaled back into something more manageable, he said.

Environment Southland councillor Nicol Horrell, the environmental management committee chairman, said it was not a case of favouring fresh water over the coastal environment.

Because the fresh water systems were so closely linked with estuaries and lagoons the systems were in a way interchangeable, he said.

The new reports would be less comprehensive about the coast as a whole, but would still provide all the necessary details, he said.

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- The Southland Times

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